Friday, April 25, 2014

Vince Ebert: Physicist Turned Stand-Up Comic

Who says the German's don't have a sense of humor. Vince Ebert is a physicist turned comedian and makes science accessible by using humor, wit, and irony. All his topics are scientifically themed, but he adds politics, family drama, and of course, sex. He's Germany's answer to Carl Sagan, only funnier!

Ebert studied physics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg with an emphasis in experimental solid state physics and a minor in astronomy. As a graduate student, he worked on phase transitions in mixed crystals of ferroelectric betaine. (I don't have a clue what that means, but I'm certain, it's something brainy.) 

According to Ebert:
"[studying mixed crystals] was an absolute blast topic! I sat up all night with a dimmed laser light, watching the crystal cool down to 20 Kelvin and then I measured it. Unfortunately, it became clear to me that I didn't want to spend 30 years doing this sort of thing." [My translation]
(Original quote: "Ein absolutes Knallerthema! Ich habe nächlange bei gedimmtem Laserlicht dagessen, Kristallsysteme auf 30 Kelvin runtergekühlt und dann gemessen. Dabei mir leider vor allem eines klar geworden: dass ich nicht 30 Jahre so zubringen wollte.")
After his university studies, Ebert worked briefly for a consulting company but realized his true calling was in front of an audience. At first, his performances bombed. But gradually, he honed his craft, and today, he's a sell out. 

I saw Ebert being interviewed on TV, and he was an absolute riot. He's hyper, crazy, and so "not physics." He's currently touring Germany, Austria and Switzerland with his sixth solo program Evolution and will be in Berlin on April 29-30. (Unfortunately, I can't attend. All his performances are sold out!) The video clip I've included concerns the "scientific explanation" of how sexual attraction works. It's a hoot!

Mr. Ebert and his brand of humor is something the United States desperately needs right now: a vehicle that makes science enjoyable and part of public discourse. Of late, science in the United States has become a suspect topic laced with political implications. Whether it's climate change, evolution or energy, science is perceived as too "intellectual" and divorced from everyday life. 

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